The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has announced that it recommends physical school for children this coming school year. The trusted organization claims that the benefits of being in a school setting far outweigh the minimal risks of contracting or spreading the virus.
It has been a long, hot summer since schools nation-wide began to shut down in April. Most parents have either had to stop working or shift to working from home while children have adjusted to distance learning through Zoom chats and emails. While many families are anxious to get their kids back into a group setting (and out of the house!), others harbor valid concerns about the risks. It doesn’t take a child development expert to know how unrealistic social distancing and wearing masks would be for kids at school. The AAP has now come out with a statement on this.
The AAP is strongly in favor of sending children back to their physical classrooms at the start of the 20/21 school year. This recommendation is based on the statement that “schools are fundamental to child and adolescent development and well-being.”
Children are at a low risk of contracting COVID-19, and thereby less likely to spread it in a group setting. Moreover, remote learning is likely to result in severe learning loss and increased social isolation, putting kids at risk of falling behind academically and developing psychological problems. The risks of continuing to stay home for an extended period of time appear to be much more relevant for most healthy children than the risks of spreading the virus.
Here is what the nation’s pediatricians have to say about classroom protocols:
- maintain physical distance when possible
- clean and disinfect regularly
- promote frequent hand-washing
- use outdoor spaces whenever possible
Even if capacity prevents children from adhering to the six-feet distance recommendation, the AAP still says that remote learning is not a good alternative to classroom learning.
What about masks? The AAP says that elementary-aged children should not wear masks because it will make them more likely to touch their faces often, but that middle schoolers and older should.
Medically fragile children may not be advised to return to school, and should consult with their pediatricians.
The greatest concern in sending children back to school is the safety of the staff. The AAP recommends against in-person teacher meetings or parent-teacher meetings. Teachers and staff over age 50 face increased risks.